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Keeping North America safe for half a century

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Military and El Paso County Sheriff vehicles provide support during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony to Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Military and El Paso County Sheriff vehicles provide support during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony to Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Soldiers and Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., provided support to the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Soldiers and Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., provided support to the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Col. Doug Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander, reacts to comments made by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Col. Doug Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander, reacts to comments made by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Two F-16 Fighting Falcons, 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard perform a flyover during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Two F-16 Fighting Falcons, 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard perform a flyover during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner talks with Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander following the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner talks with Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander following the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony attendees  tour the north portal tunnel at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony attendees tour the north portal tunnel at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Retired Staff Sgt. Bill Bunker, 61st Air Force Police Squadron, is interviewed by regional media outlets following the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Bunker was previously stationed at the mountain. With the nickname America's Fortress, CMAFS is situated beneath 2,000 feet of granite and consists of 15 buildings resting on more than 1,300 enormous steel springs. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Retired Staff Sgt. Bill Bunker, 61st Air Force Police Squadron, is interviewed by regional media outlets following the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Bunker was previously stationed at the mountain. With the nickname America's Fortress, CMAFS is situated beneath 2,000 feet of granite and consists of 15 buildings resting on more than 1,300 enormous steel springs. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner unveil the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony plaque commemorating 50 years of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. With the nickname America's Fortress, CMAFS is situated beneath 2,000 feet of granite and consists of 15 buildings resting on more than 1,300 enormous steel springs. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner unveil the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony plaque commemorating 50 years of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. With the nickname America's Fortress, CMAFS is situated beneath 2,000 feet of granite and consists of 15 buildings resting on more than 1,300 enormous steel springs. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Members of the United States Air Force Academy band perform the national anthems of the U.S. and Canada during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Members of the United States Air Force Academy band perform the national anthems of the U.S. and Canada during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - A pair of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, perform a flyover during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. With the nickname America's Fortress, CMAFS is situated beneath 2,000 feet of granite and consists of 15 buildings resting on more than 1,300 enormous steel springs. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - A pair of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, perform a flyover during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. With the nickname America's Fortress, CMAFS is situated beneath 2,000 feet of granite and consists of 15 buildings resting on more than 1,300 enormous steel springs. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., make the climb up Cheyenne Mountain Road to help support the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jared Marquis)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., make the climb up Cheyenne Mountain Road to help support the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jared Marquis)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., make the climb up Cheyenne Mountain Road to help support the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jared Marquis)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., make the climb up Cheyenne Mountain Road to help support the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jared Marquis)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., make the climb up Cheyenne Mountain Road to help support the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jared Marquis)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - Stryker vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., make the climb up Cheyenne Mountain Road to help support the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jared Marquis)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, addresses attendees during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photograph by Rob L. Bussard)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, addresses attendees during the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photograph by Rob L. Bussard)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Members of the community and military attend the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photograph by Rob L. Bussard)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Members of the community and military attend the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photograph by Rob L. Bussard)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Members of the community and military pay respect during the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rob Bussard)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Members of the community and military pay respect during the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. After nearly five years of construction, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was declared fully operational April 20, 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rob Bussard)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Two UH-60 Black Hawks, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, flyover as part of the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)
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CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. – Two UH-60 Black Hawks, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, flyover as part of the 50th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station April 15, 2016. Since its inception during the Cold War through the war on terrorism, Cheyenne Mountain has remained critical to the defense mission providing command and control for the nation since 1966. Cheyenne Mountain AFS is owned by the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, and operated by the 721st Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault)

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. -- CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. - On a day when both the Governor of Colorado and the U.S. Senate proclaimed April 20 as Cheyenne Mountain Day, while clouds threatened rain, and wind whipped across the iconic north portal of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, a crowd paid homage to America's Fortress.

A rededication ceremony marking 50 years being a fully operational facility took place April 15, 2016 at CMAFS. Among the dignitaries attending the event were General John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Colorado Sen. Corey Gardener.

Hyten, who served as mission director at CMAFS 1994-96, said there is no feeling like walking into the mountain every day to protect the nation.

"The Mountain may have changed, but the pride, passion, and dedication (of those who serve there) has not," Hyten said.

He called the mountain men and women who served at the facility, American heroes who took part in making history, protecting the country during a critical time.

"It's not just a story of technology, but (it's) a human story," said Hyten. He went on to share the stories of two veterans who were stationed at CMAFS when it became fully operational, retired Master Sgt. Robert Thibeaux and retired Staff Sgt. Bill Bunker. Thibeaux was on duty in the command center when the Mountain became operational and watched the complex transform and grow. Bunker, who was a member of security forces, manned the gate on that first day and was featured in a photo that became famous around the world.

Hickenlooper said being at CMAFS brought to mind the famed Cold War movie Dr. Strangelove.

"The reason (CMAFS) is featured in movies is because there is nothing like it," said Hickenlooper. "It's a true engineering marvel. I still can't conceive of how they did this."

He acknowledged the impact the military has upon the state's economy, saying it plays a direct role in how the state functions. Cheyenne Mountain AFS in particular is a critical resource among the Colorado's defense entities.

"Cold War threats may have been the driver for Cheyenne Mountain, but 50 years later it is still America's Fortress," Hickenlooper said. He released an official proclamation naming April 20 as Cheyenne Mountain Day throughout the state.

Gardner said CMAFS reminded him more of Matthew Broderick than Dr. Strangelove, referring to the 1983 film War Games, in which the facility played a major role.

"I never thought I would have the honor to stand here," Gardner said, gesturing toward the north portal archway. He referenced letters his father wrote after the end of World War II causing him to think about the work done by men and women who served tirelessly at CMAFS protecting North America around the clock.

"From the people around the 50 states who've never got the chance to thank you, thank you," said Gardner. He and fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet co-authored a proclamation in the Senate, recognizing the strategic importance of CMAFS designating April 20 Cheyenne Mountain Day.

To punctuate the ceremony several military aircraft staged a flyover of the mountain facility including two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 140th Wing, Buckley Air Force Base; and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson. Combat vehicles from the 1st Stryker Brigade, 4th ID, Fort Carson were also in attendance to commemorate the event.

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